new music: chicago’s house of whales is simultaneously one of the most exciting bands in alt rock and hip-hop #soundcheck

January 29, 2015

Chicago alternative hip-hop trio House of Whales’ debut full length is one of the most exciting new releases in a while. A mix of political commentary, self-doubt, and dark humor, MC Rico Sisney’s lyrics are the kind of hyper-dense multi-layered verses that reward multiple listens. But what else would you expect from a band with the rarely see in the wild pun-based name that’s actually pretty great? (cue Principal Skinner: we need a name that’s witty at first, but that seems less funny each time you hear it…) On their self-titled debut, House of Whales prove themselves simultaneously to be one of the most exciting bands in alt rock and hip-hop.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

From the heavy political ‘Who’s Gonna Answer’ to the contemplative ‘Super Hopeful’, House of Whales show a deft skill at shifting from the personal to the political and back to the personal. “I don’t cuss in my raps, but fuck the government” is about as perfect a lyric as there is. On ‘Sweather’, Rico confronts his inner critic in a battle of wills from which he barely emerges. It’s a swirling meta self-deconstruction of the creative process that leaves him vulnerable and human. He doesn’t defeat doubt, he just puts it back in its Pokéball.

Here’s the one (and pretty much only) complaint about this record: why wait until half-way through to bust out that dope string section? Kicking in on the sublime ode to a complicated relationship ‘Long Distance’, the string quartet adds a contrast to bassist Mike Ruby’s all-distorted-all-the-time buzz saw low end. ‘The Newsfeed’ is a brilliant evisceration of corporate controlled media, with a dub feel, strings, and sludgy bass that justify it’s 6 minute run time. For every bombastic ‘Kinetic’, the band packs a contemplative ‘Mark My Words’. Stunningly heartbreaking while still propulsive and dynamic, it’s the perfect synthesis about what makes House of Whales great.

The album is out now on iTunes and wherever digital music is sold. Don’t sit this one out.